The Making of #mmlittle家 - Renovations

My Contractor [Formative Trading] - Jerry 9665 3760

Not only have I been solo-parenting the children, I have been solo-parenting our new home too. I had three meetings with my contractor before commencement proper with the last meeting set up to talk about the construction of our loft, breaking down a wall, carpentry works and putting up wall beadings in our living and dining rooms.

The last meeting was two weeks ago where I met six men in one morning for a back-to-back discussion at our new place. 

1. Carpenter
2. Contractor
3. Sub-Contractor
4. Painter
5. Steel Man [who do you call someone who works with steel?]
6. The Curtain Guy 

I brought a novel with me because I was certain there would be pockets of quiet time in between appointments from 0900 to 1200 hours that day. Alas. The book was not touched. Every meeting overran but it was such a fruitful morning, I felt extremely accomplished. 

Hmmm where was Mr Meyer Yang? Oh he went to Jakarta for business. 

I gave him a quick summary and he asked,

"Did you tell Jerry we need electrical sockets on the upper deck of Faye's loft?"

"The dining table has been delivered? One side of the table has wheels on the legs. I hope the delivery guys placed it correctly with the wheels nearer to our main door."
I reminded them before they moved the table in.

"Oh I hope you mentioned the we need to pull the electrical wire from the wall to inside the TV cabinet!"
Yup! He knows.

"Wow! I am impressed! Mommy you don't need me what! You settled everything on your own!" 
my busy husband exclaimed

Right at that moment, I felt like I should have played the role of a dumb blonde. *hahahah* Maybe women shouldn't be too competent so that the men can step in to get things moving. Ai Ai Ai... but I know he has a lot on his plate too trying to bring back the bacon. Oh man! He is even studying really hard for his EMBA right now too! All so that he can up his value in the market. I hope he finds value in me handling this part of his life well enough to not worry!

I didn't believe I could ever solo-parent my children [nor the new home] but I guess what push comes to shove, we just have to make things work. 

Even if it meant breaking down walls on my own.

Never again will I call myself the weaker sex. 

20 Sep 2017, Wednesday
Thank goodness I have my mornings free from my kids because I wouldn't be able to handle site visits otherwise. Today's the first day and I just had to be there. It is my home after all and who better to oversee things other than myself?

We did not hire an Interior Designer and decided to work directly with our contractor. ID is a good option if one doesn't know exactly what to do or needs ideas on how to maximise space. I find it a waste of money to engage an ID when we know exactly what we want. So there. One middle-man less. One cost less.

I took off to #mmlittle家 as soon as I dropped the children at school. My first appointment was for 0900 hours where I met a sales representative from Meraki Decoration. Mike offered to bring the pendant lights I was enquiring for to my place for viewing [since they didn't have a showroom]. The appointment felt very exclusive! I mean, who brings your shoppings to your doorstep? You had me had hello and I am lining you up along the walkway to our bedrooms.

The workers arrived shortly after, bringing along their gears in preparation of the wall hack. I remember when we were considering to buy this unit, I told my husband, "Gosh. We will be living in a mouse hole! The master bedroom is so small! No I cannot sleep in there."

The only way to make it livable was to make a hole in the wall and make two bedrooms into one.

I went to inspect the drawings on the walls that the workers put up. To my horror, it was drawn wrongly! Worst still, they didn't just use a pencil to outline it. It looked like it was burnt or what do you call this?

In the Adjacent Bedroom, the outline was done correctly but it wasn't in the Master Bedroom. I call that complacency. From the floor plan, you can see [the part where I circled] that the two rooms are not exactly back-to-back. That structure is not to be touched! Yet, they outlined it on the other side as if they were going to have it hacked. Well, if they started the hacking from the Master Bedroom instead of the Adjacent Bedroom, it will bound to be hacked.

My contractor came and I quickly highlighted to him! We both shook our heads in disbelief. I was promised by my contractor that the groove in my wall will be fixed.

I cannot imagine what fury I would fly into if I had left them to it today.

A few minutes had past and I saw the workers removing the doors to the wardrobe in the Adjacent Bedroom. I thought, "Oh okay. It isn't necessary to protect the doors from damages to this extent but alright. Do what they have to!"

I went to another part of the house to discuss more important details with my contractor. Suddenly, I heard BANG CLANG BANG! I rushed to the room and found them dismantling my wardrobe! They removed the drawers and unbuckled all the shelves!

"Holy Moly! 
Why Are You Dismantling My Wardrobe!"

Yes! We are rebuilding our wardrobe in the Master Room and it needs to be removed. But it's not THIS wardrobe in the Adjacent Bedroom! Jerry, my contractor, came running in after me and assured me very calmly that he will have his rectified. Not at my expense of course.

Now that this room had been communicated properly, I went out to the living room to meet with another worker who will be working on the wall beadings. Oh we have grand plans for our living and dining space. This has better be replicated properly!

How wrong can it be? I provided a photograph to follow.

Well, he did draw out the squares! Hmm but where is that top line when I was going to segregate paint and wallpaper?

Side-tracking, oh don't you love the wallpaper we have chosen from Robin Sprong? A tropical space with gold stalks hand-illustrated by Patricia Braune. In Singapore, they are represented by LayerPlay Design.

Thankful I haven't left and showed him the picture again.

So. These are exactly the reasons why both owner and main contractor should be on site to oversee even the most minute things.

It was really exhausting though to be troubleshooting almost everything there was this morning. I gave Meyer a live update the whole while and he said, "Thank goodness you are there."

I take that as my pat on the back.

Ah yes. Reminder to self: Never Wear Slippers To A Work Site Unless I Want To Injure Myself Again.

I picked the kids up from school and headed out for lunch. Driving them to sleep is the best way to get a quick me-time once we get home. So I decided to drive to our new place to check on the work progress. 

Here's the hole in our wall at 1500 hours!

22 Sep 2017, Friday
Today it's all about the living room and electrical works. When I arrived at #mmlittle家 this morning, the men were already hard at work. Jerry was briefing the lighting guys on the exact points for our down and pendant lights. I followed them in the walk-through to give my nods of approvals, reminding them which points were for the pendant lights I've bought.

In every room we went, the electrician drew the layout plan on the floor for his men to carry out the cutting and reinforcement works. Most of our ceilings are false and metal reinforcements are required to ensure our lights do not fall.

Jerry showed me the down lights he was going to install in our home and even taught me how to change the drivers should the bulbs blow. I listened to him half-heartedly and thought, "Huh? Do I really have to be the one changing lights in the house too?" I paid attention for knowledge. The kind of knowledge I intend to just pass on to my man of the house so that he can wear his handyman cap when needed! Gotta make my husband feel useful too sometimes [or rather, I feel that we both need to have shared responsibilities for our home and I shall leave the technical stuffs to him].

Oh it was daunting to watch the men work! Even with a false ceiling, the height of our bedrooms and living area is 4.3 meters high. I would have thought they would require scaffolds but they all agreed that a tall ladder would suffice. Even when putting up our heavy Raffles Hotel Lobby Chandeliers, they had it up only with these tall ladders. We actually went totally out of theme with these lights but they were too historical and close to heart to not bring home.

We were inspired by a photograph we saw from LayerPlay Design's Instagram page to have wall beadings lining our living room. These are made of strips of plaster, cut and pasted carefully onto the drawings penciled in on our walls. It does look victorian. Hmmm or a little English. Matched with the right furnishings, it can actually be modern and that is what we are trying to achieve. They progressed quite well today, with three quarters of our living area beaded!

In this picture, LayerPlay Design was trying to promote the dance of palm trees. Not only do they provide wallpapering services, they print high-quality photorealistic art too for your humble abode!

Oh I am going to keep you in some kind of suspense and not reveal too much yet because a Mood Board post will be up soon to share how we visualised our home to be without an Interior Designer. Oh trust me. Even today, as we are well into the Reno works, I am still having doubts about our choices! However, whenever I voice out my indecisions, Meyer will always tell me it will look awesome!

I am thankful we have a roof garden connecting two blocks [one of them is ours] right above our heads. I took a quick steal of me-time, answering to emails and googling about warm and cool lights, while they worked downstairs. And then *woops* it's time to go pick the kids up from school!

28 Sep 2017, Thursday
Day nine just in the blink of an eye. It is all about electrical works this week! We have got all the down lights up [what an accidental pun] and running. The ceiling lights for the patio and bomb shelter are installed too. We chose flood lights for our patio because it is also 4.3 meters high! We thought carefully through the options of ceiling fans and down lights but chose something we thought would be stronger instead since it will be "so far away" from us.

Ceiling fans were not practical because a rod of about 2 meters long will be required to be suspended for us to feel any kind of wind if we were in the patio. That sounds rather dangerous! Imagine a heavy downpour with strong winds. I will have to suffer from dangerous swinging fans!

Regular patio lights seemed too romantic and dark for the area as well. Although flood lights are industrial and ugly, I agreed with the husband to go on the practical 路线. When the lights went up, I looked at them in dismay. They look tiny up there! So small, I almost need a binoculars. Even my watermark is bigger! *hahah* but I doubt it is going to perform its job as well as we thought they might. We got to make a trip to the house one night to give it a test!

The electrical wall socket wirings are in the works too! We had to move many sockets around to fit our new layouts in the house. Because we are building a loft for Faye in her bedroom, we had to pull some wires up the wall for the upper deck when it's ready. Thinking ahead in case we need to plug in a standing fan or table lamp.

So look! We have also broken through the plaster above Faye's wardrobe to give the space above more than what it initially promises. The air-conditioner needed some shifting to cater to the platform as well. Oh Faye Oh Faye. What major works for your room!

The wall beadings in our living and dining room are all up! They are beautiful and I hope we choose the right colour for it. We are intending to paint our corridor blue too [or grey?] but extremely indecisive at this moment, afraid it will look kiddish. There must be a right colour for it too look sophisticated. A few more weeks to finalise on a decision before Nippon comes in for the works!

I wonder what's happening next week! Our carpenter is working on our wardrobes [fixing back one of those that got broken down accidentally], building us wall shelves to free up floor space and making a full timber loft for Faye!

I realise I don't look exactly friendly when I put on my thinking cap.

6 Oct 2017, Friday
Happy Children's Day! We were out from 0800 to 2100 hours! Oh don't look at me like that. I was the one who went by the whole day with no rest. The kids took their afternoon naps in the car when I was busying myself with RenoWorks.

We started the morning celebrating my father's birthday and spent the next six hours with him from breakfast to lunch. As much as I should bring the children home to nap in their beds, I drove us to the new house instead. Awww... the carpenter was installing our wall shelves, timber loft and wardrobe that day! I wanted to be part of it.

It was such a difficult task to look for the right wall-mounted shelf. In fact, I couldn't find anything that I liked! Even if I did find the ones I liked at brick and mortar stores, those shelfs couldn't be mounted on the wall. I resorted to getting our carpenter to customise it for us. These were exactly what I imagined it to be! We left a one metre space in between to hang either a wall painting or mirror.

The backing of the shelves are not hollow. I chose a white back to match the colour of our wall so that it looked like it's seamless. A wood swatch was presented to me before the making of these shelves and I chose a colour that matches the legs of our dining table. I always remember my mother's rule of thumb when it comes to colour coordination - always keep to the same three colours for you clothes, bag and shoes. I assume it works the same for interior designing.

Oh our timber loft for Faye turned out to be miscalculated! Ewan has a furniture deck in his room, came built with the collection of keys. It is about two meters high on the upper deck and can accommodate my husband's height when he stands up. We planned it the same for Faye's room. Why of course! I wouldn't want to be bending over when I get up there.

However, only after we put the deck up did we realise that her wardrobe is higher than Ewan's! [The deck needs to be put above the wardrobe] So meaning, she gets less space on the top as compared to what we've got in Ewan's room! And meaning, her stairs are REALLY steep [almost a ladder]!

I took a quick climb up onto the deck and was disappointed to find that I couldn't stand up straight. It would have been perfect if we had initially planned for it as a bedroom on the upper deck but we did not because Faye is only three years old and I wouldn't want her to be up there alone in the dead of the night. How dangerous!

That said, the height of the upper deck is perfect for Ewan and Faye. They can stand up straight alright with still lots of head space to walk and jump about. They will probably put a sign up there, "Out Of Bounds For Adults" since it's made fitting for little children. It will be turned into a library cum playroom for these two little lucky imps.

It isn't legal to put up a deck of more than five square metres and so we kept to the regulation. How wonderful it would be if only we could extend the space up there!

The posts to line the upper deck are so beautiful! Look at the curves! Oh I can't wait to see them all fully painted in white!

I took the kids out of the house for a quick nap. We did not go home for it because it was just an hour away from Art Class. There was no point in it. I got them into the car and told them, "Sleep!" I know it is an offence to drive without getting belted up and so I had them both buckled into a Mifold each. Only when I came to a stationary stop did I removed Faye's buckles just to let her sleep in a lying position. Don't go and report me ah? I didn't break any rules.

Meyer will be leaving for another work trip soon and that was the only day he could make it to view the house. We went back that evening and was pleasantly surprised to see the house all swept free of sawdust and we had our TV console cabinet fixed into the empty slot! We removed the wardrobe in our master bedroom and constructed a cabinet for a home theatre system instead. It isn't fully done yet but happy to see how fast they worked.

We decided [finally I have someone to discuss with!] on the colours on the walls, how to make it safer for the kids up on the loft, light fixtures and a possible floating table in our bedroom for work.

Looking at how things are going, I think the handover will be in a week's time!

14 Oct 2017, Saturday
One week later, we have the house ready for paint job! Coming Monday, Nippon Paint will step in to take over and I am both nervous and excited about it. Oh crossing my fingers that the colours we chose are going to make the mark! We followed our Mood Board rather closely and hope the real thing is not going to deviate too much from it.

So what went on the past week?

We had all our lights up! Our current place has beautiful pendant lights and chandeliers. We contemplated hard on bringing them all over because they didn't exactly came cheap. If we could reuse them, why not? However, only our bedroom pendants from Ipse Ipsa Ipsim [known as Sam and Sara many years ago] matched the theme to our new home. They will be gracing the space in our master bedroom.

I am so thankful we kept the extra chains of these pendant lights! Otherwise, we won't be able to lower them closer to ground for aesthetic reasons. Oh the woes of having high ceilings.

If you recently read about the look I wanted to achieve for our corridor in The Making of #mmlittle家- Mood Board, you would have noticed I was going to go for a brass coloured pendant light. Since we have the height to accommodate hanging lamps, I thought we shouldn't miss this chance.

It was difficult to find the right lights for our corridor and I spent a considerable amount of time searching for one in Carousell and googling for online light shops hoping to shop in the comfort of my home. Building up a home post-kids proved to be a lot more challenging than when we had the luxury of time to go shopping in brick-and-motar shops.

I finally stumbled upon Meraki Decoration and loved almost everything I saw there! Best of all, I get to buy online! I sent in an enquiry for this light I liked and was hoping to see the physical product. Unfortunately, they do not have a showroom. But, they offered to bring me a sample at my house! I paid for the lights via bank transfer and received them about a week later.

How do you like our Raffles Hotel chandeliers all lighted up? They had hung the lights up from the very beginning but it was only this week that they screwed in the bulbs and added in the glass petals. How wonderful it is to bring home a piece of Raffles Hotel to #mmlittle家 - the place which means so much to me. [Read: When I was a Butler at Raffles Hotel Singpaore]

I added more poles in Faye's loft to prevent unnecessary accidents from occurring, finalised on the carpet colour & texture for Ewan's room and had the carpenter fixed a few shelves to house our shoes in the utility cabinet [because we are supposed to make use of every possible space there is right?].

My mother-in-law dropped by today to conduct a simple prayer to bless the home. I do not know the procedures or the reasons behind these but will not reject her offer as well. In fact, I accepted it with open arms! She said it is to ward off evil and bring in good luck. I so absolutely no harm in that! Hmmm but I was more busy trying to photograph and document this interesting tradition that will probably see the last of its days by my children's generation. My mother-in-law still upholds this culture with discipline and never failed to pop by our current place every Hungry Ghost Festival to conduct a simple prayer.

So I guess, that's why we are all happy and lucky! Thanks Mom!

By the way, Ewan and Faye had a lot of fun throwing the mmmm rice/sand/tea leaves.

17 Oct 2017, Tuesday
Things are shaping up really quickly now and we are excited to welcome colours into our home this week! We chose to work with Nippon Paint Singapore once again after experiencing longevity in our paint jobs from our previous homes. Why risk another paint company when they haven't once disappointed me?

The painting process took two whole days and we are still not absolutely done. Another day will be scheduled for Nippon painters to drop in for final touch-ups. But most importantly, hmmm what do you think of our living room skirting?

Our initial plan was to have the bottom part of the top line painted in Blue Collar. As in THE WHOLE SECTION, not just the borders. The communication between us broke down a little and by the time I returned for a check in the afternoon, this happened.

It takes a lot more effort than just brushing the whole piece in one colour! Not only did the painter have to delicately line the borders, he had to paint the rest of the squares white as well. It probably took him one whole day for this and I walked in with, "Huh? This wasn't what I wanted!" His face fell but I took a second look and thought this looked rather fresh doesn't it? Well done Nippon for shedding alternative light to our restricted interior designing knowledge!

I told them to keep it this way and they kindly offered to repaint it how I wanted if I felt that it matches the upcoming wallpaper better.

What do you think?

I would love to hear your opinions about it!

Our corridor is exactly how we envisioned it to be. Oh a lovely shade of bluish grey which is further accentuated by painting my brown doors white! We did think about replacing all our doors but the cost was going to be hefty. A lot more expensive than just having it painted over. I was jumping with joy when Nippon told me they could achieve the effect I wanted.

Look how our corridor turned from White to Blue Collar then Brown doors to White:

I designed two feature walls in Ewan's room and decided to give Nippon the opportunity to put my ideas from drawing board to reality! With these walls, I added wall decals on them to round up the Batman-themed room I promised Ewan he would have. When he saw just that little snippet of what's going to be, he asked his dad, "Do you like it dad? I like it so much! Will you sleep with me every night and when we wake up every morning, we should shout WOW WOW WOW!"

Awww... that really was the sweetest thing I heard all day. What a way to acknowledge mommy's hard work and planning!

The Batman wall decals are from Owl Bliss. One pack consists of 45 decals and it is priced at S$42 each. Put in the Promo Code "MMLITTLEE" at check out and you will knock 20% off your total purchase this year! This is not all from Owl Bliss that will go up in the children's room. Stay tuned for more!

I also had our contractor lined his staircase with black carpet to aesthetically blend in the stairs to the adjacent black wall. The final outlook is exactly how we envisioned it to be.

Thankful for the husband's support in agreeing on a monochrome theme for our son!

Ewan and Faye couldn't resist asking for a go at painting but they were quickly shooed out of the house because well, we were all so afraid of their clumsy ways!

Nippon took care of Faye's brown poles up in her loft as well, painting it white. They have only just painted a base coat and will return another day to finish up the details on it. 

The next time I write, it will be on the installation of our wallpapers!

19 Oct 17 update:: I never stopped thinking about styling, design and colours. This morning when I woke, I realised I could ask Patricia Braune, the designer of the wallpaper, for her opinion! Feeling assured and confident with her reply:

24 Oct 2017, Tuesday
One week after the paint is settled and dried, we had our wallpapers up! LayerPlay came early morning and spent the whole day at my place with their trusted installers. It was so exciting just watching the freshly printed wallpapers unroll on my floor.

I had been waiting for this day with much anticipation. The choices we made were either going to make or break the ambience of our home and I couldn't wait to see them on my walls! Thank you everyone who spent time sending me private messages through Instagram as you followed through my Insta-Stories on the wallpapering progress. Your compliments almost made me tear for I finally could see the fruits of my labour with the making of #mmlittle家.

The Interior Designer from my neighbour's house came to steal a sneak at #mmlittle家 and when we spoke, he asked me the name of my ID firm. Oh gosh! What a compliment! He thought I was an Interior Designer there to oversee my client's place! I told him, "Oh no lah! I'm the owner." and he added, "Oh so you are the owner and ID ah! What's your company name?"

*hahah* I added, "I am just a mother!"

When I saw the sneaks on how my wallpapers were being printed at the production house the day before, I couldn't help but beam with pride. We are having these international artists' illustrations printed fresh from the scratch right here in Singapore!

There were four men on the job and they professionally scaled my tall wall with just a ladder to get the work done! I must say I was impressed. They did it with such gusto and professionalism, I couldn't help but gave myself a pat on the back for choosing the right partners for this job. 

I was having so much fun watching and documenting the process that I was so reluctant to leave the home when it was time to pick the kids from school. 

Here are some sneaks of #mmlittle家 where we will have four feature walls featuring Robin Sprong's wallpaper collection. 

We are holding back the full reveal till a later date so hang on tight and don't get too excited! In the meantime, if you'd like to consider wallpapering for your new home, contact LayerPlay for a site visit and quotation. Not only do they print wallpapers, they do stretched canvas of your favourite family photos and even wall decals too!

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  1. New look is really awesome. Your new renovation with their kids smile make the perfect beauty. Thanks for sharing the useful info...


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